The Game: You’re a bubble bounding around a series of platforms, changing the color of every segment on which you land. Your job is to change the color of the entire playing field while avoiding everything else, including an equally mobile needle that has a point to make. If you run into your adversaries too many times, I hate to burst your bubble, but the game’s over. (First Star Software. 1983)
Memories: One of the earliest entries into the video game arena by First Star Software – an outfit which is actually still in business, unlike a lot of other latecomers to the ’80s video game race – Boing! is obviously another take on the basic game play concepts of Q*Bert, and truth be told, it doesn’t bring any new innovations to the table, but it’s a slight improvement audiovisually. Boing! can also boast an easier control scheme, since it doesn’t ask the player to rotate the joystick 45 degrees. That’s a big help.
Boing! doesn’t quite break out of being “just a Q*Bert clone” like, say, Imagic’s Quick Step does with its vertical scrolling element, but in the end, it may be a better game of Q*Bert than what Parker Brothers put on the market. That opens a whole can of worms, i.e. is changing something as fundamental as an arcade port’s playfield okay if it preserves the spirit of the game, but not when it screws things up a la 2600 Pac-Man?
First Star Software was already on the map by the time it published Boing!, having released games for Atari’s home computers, and its foray into console territory was short lived. But First Star also scores the distinction of having survived the crash – it’s still in business today, and has even put its stamp of approval on things like a recent Atari 5200 port of an Atari 8-bit computer game it released in the ’80s, Bristles. It’s still adapting its biggest success, Miner 2049’er, for platforms such as cell phones.